The Life of Frans Hals
Hals was born in 1583 in Antwerp (Belgium), but moved to Holland at the age of three. He became a student of Carel van Mander in 1603. In 1610 he married Anneke Harmensdochter and joined the city guild for painters in Haarlem.
Hals painted the first of his famous ‘schutterstukken’ in 1616 and the last one in 1639. He would teach several students and five of his fourteen children how to paint, until his death at the respectable age of 84. He was buried in the city of Haarlem, where he spent almost his entire life.
The Work of Frans Hals
Frans Hals painted group portraits, single portraits and scenes from daily life. But he is especially known for his ‘schutterstukken’. These are group portraits of the civic guards of that time. To be appointed for a ‘schutterstuk’ was considered a great honor and a very considerable task. Frans Hals was commissioned to create such an important work up to five times.
Frans Hals dared to be different. His paintings have a vivid likeness, typical setting and seem to be in motion. He knew how to capture a moment in time and bring it to life on canvas. He was ahead of his time; his work would be of great influence for many great impressionists of the 19th century, like Monet, Corbet and Manet.
Vincent van Gogh, too, was much impressed by Frans Hals’ work. He wrote to his brother Theo: “What a joy it is to see a Frans Hals, how different it is from the paintings – so many of them – where everything is carefully smoothed out in the same manner.”
Where to find Frans Hals
The Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem is home to the world’s largest Frans Hals collection. The museum also has many works by Frans Hals’ contemporaries on display, which enables you to compare the work of Frans Hals and understand what made him such a great painter. In addition to works from other artists of the Golden Age, the Mauritshuis and Rijksmuseum boast several works by Frans Hals in their collection.